Ah, patriotism. Last year it led one man to order a restaurant's special Fourth of July drink: a red strawberry dacquiri topped with white cream whipped thick enough to keep the blue stripe--blueberries--from sinking. How gamely he drank it, doing homage to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams with every colorful sip.
There have to be easier ways to convince your guests that you're a Yankee Doodle Dandy.
As mementos of your Fourth of July party, you could, for instance, pass out hand-painted silk cards that represent the American flag (by Ann Buckleu, $2.50 each at the Renwick Gallery, 17th and Pennsylvania NW); or, more cheaply, 20-cent postcards of the famous Stuart portrait of George Washington from the museum shop, National Portrait Gallery, Eighth and F streets NW (11 x 14 size, $1).
When the guests arrive, host and hostess could pop into view wearing red or blue Harpo Marx wigs ($12.95 from Backstage, 2101 P St. NW). Uncle Sam can open the door, appropriately bearded ($1.85, also from Backstage) and wearing his signature top hat ($1.95 at Jacobs Gardner, various locations).
Other possibilities for pledging your allegiance in red, white and blue: wearing an I Love America T-shirt ($7.50 from the T-Shirt House, 3143 N St. NW) or making dinner while wearing a red and white or blue and white apron ($13.50 from Williams Sonoma, Mazza Gallerie, Wisconsin and Western avenues). You could also be a patriotic punk and spray your hair with red, white and blue stripes while turning your forehead into a star spangled banner. (Spray, about $3 a can; stars, $1.60 a jar at costume outfitters.)
Your table can be as appropriately dressed as you are. Marblehead Handprints, 1415 Wisconsin Ave. NW, has blue and white or red and white bandanas ($5) that can be used as place mats and napkins, with matching mugs ($4).
Williams-Sonoma has red and white and blue and white damask check tablecloths ($25 to $50 depending on size) with matching napkins ($4 each). The same store has dish towels broadly striped in red, white and blue ($2) which could be used as place mats, and plastic plates in red and blue to hold an all-American meal. (A dozen 12-inch ones, $8.25; 10-inch, $5; and 8-inch, $3.50. Matching knives, forks and spoons, $3 for a set of eight.)
Liberty, 1513 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Georgetown, has the perfect Independence Day plate lettered "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" ($16).
To keep your guests alert and sober until it's dark enough for the fireworks, let them try Flipper Dinger, a toy that amused earlier generations of Americans. Well, perhaps not amused: frustrated. As you blow through a tube, a small ball floats into the air and it is your task to hook it into a wire circle. There is also Ball & Cup, in which you try to catch a wooden bead in a cup. Both are $4.80 at Appalachian Spring.
Last, but never least, don't forget flags to salute or wave. One of the largest suppliers, National Capital Flag Co., Inc., 3256 Colvin St., Alexandria, has Old Glory in sizes ranging from 4-by-6-inch ($2) to 20-by-38-feet ($864). Or check the Yellow Pages for a flag store in your neighborhood.